The Rise of Online Journalism

“Welcome to Cyberspace” was the bold welcome displayed across the front cover of Time Magazine, on 1st March 1995, offering an outline of the state of internet technology and various assessments of its increasing impact on everyday life. Time clarified a range of outlooks, topics such as the impending arrival of the global world, net-based commerce and computer crime among others; all revealing the rapid environment of cyberspace for its readers.

The Oklahoma City bombing of 19 April 1995 continues to be regarded as a tipping point for online journalism. In 1995, a time when news websites were typically little more than reports previously published elsewhere, the role of the internet has created spaces for information. Within an hour of when the bombing had occurred journalists and editors were updating a locator map of Oklahoma City and the various types of bombs used in terrorist attacks. Critics in sharp contrast were sceptical about the value of news sites, arguing that they were slow to react, and in the main offered in evening newspapers or on television. As well as technical glitches with the sites being put to a halt due to overwhelming views online, editor of NandOnet Bruce Siceloff stating ‘Broadcast is no longer the only medium for breaking news’.

When Time’s issue was published in 1995 it is important to recall that only a relatively small number of these readers could have been expected to possess first-hand experience of the internet. Time’s issue can be recognised as an intervention giving an in-depth analysis by a mainstream news publication. Elmer-Dewitt (1995) believes ‘the way in which cyberspace is being characterized in news reports as one of the driving forces for economic growth in the years to come’. While Elmer-Dewitt also stating at the rush to get online, to avoid being left behind’ in the information revolution, is intense’.

This decision to go online has meant editors, writers and correspondents have been familiarizing themselves with yet another journalistic venue of interacting with their readers. Gaines (1995) states that magazines need to produce an ‘own brand of journalism’ to new media forms. In comparison David S Jackson (1995) believes that publication have ‘embraced the electronic option’ because journalists are an integral part of the online relationship’. By offering message boards and forums, as well as posting email address of the editors and reporters it helps make a closer interaction between journalists and their audiences.





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